For whatever reason, people tend to overlook single-sided hearing loss more than they would a hearing deficit in both ears.
They may avoid the issue, saying they simply have a bad side or downplay the serious nature of the situation.
Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona encourages you to seek treatment for single-sided hearing loss because it could be a sign of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL).
How Does SSHL Occur?
More than 90% of hearing loss is of the sensorineural variety, meaning the inner ear’s tiny hair cells have been damaged. Once this occurs, the resulting hearing loss is permanent because the cells do not regenerate themselves. Excessive noise levels most often cause this hearing loss, although factors such as diet, smoking and some ototoxic medications (those that harm hearing) can also play a part.
The “sudden” variety of sensorineural hearing loss typically affects just one ear over a few days. You may be able to hear voices and sounds, but they progressively become more muffled. The ear loses the ability to hear certain pitches or frequencies, which are critical to picking up tone changes in voices or music.
SSHL is commonly caused by loud noise, although it could also be due to:
• High blood pressure or poor circulation
• Weakened blood vessels, frequently caused by diabetes
• Meniere Disease or Lyme disease
• Autoimmune or neurologic diseases
• Head trauma
• Ototoxic drugs, including painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin, chemotherapy drugs, opiates, as well as some diuretics and antibiotics
When treated quickly, SSHL can often be treated and even reversed. If you notice sudden hearing loss, be sure to tell your audiologist the issue occurred quickly to help them properly diagnose and treat the problem.
Of those treating it immediately, about 50% of people recover most of their hearing. If the hearing loss is not treated within the first few days, it may become permanent and irreversible.
Of the approximately 4,000 people who experience SSHL each year, most of them are under the age of 50. Typically, individuals may first notice the hearing loss when they hear their alarm going off in the morning, or that they can suddenly hear on the phone worse in one ear than the other. Occasionally, a popping sound is heard right before the hearing loss begins.
Treat SSHL as a medical emergency. Immediately contact an audiologist or if necessary, visit the emergency room. If you are unable to restore your hearing to pre-SSHL levels, hearing aids can often improve your listening experiences and quality of life.